Wednesday, October 21, 2020

£12m for high-tech food manufacturing campus creating 4,500 jobs

The Government has agreed to provide £12m in funding to help launch a revolutionary high-tech food manufacturing campus in Derby, which will create up to 4,500 jobs.

It will also provide an additional £6.85m to establish a manufacturing research centre in the city, generating 70 new roles and helping scores of local companies to access cutting-edge expertise to grow their operations in low-carbon and other advanced technologies.

Both initiatives form part of a recovery strategy to help reboot Derby’s economy after the Coronavirus crisis. It is built on three key pillars – maintaining confidence, diversification and decarbonisation.

News of today’s funding allocation was hailed by city leaders as a “massive boost.”

Central to it is money to help secure a huge new £300m high-tech food manufacturing and distribution campus in the city, to be developed and operated by SmartParc on 140 acres of the former Celanese site near Spondon.

The company’s approach would bring food producers together to cluster knowledge and investment – reducing food waste, lowering carbon outputs and increasing UK food security.

The campus would include a shared energy plant, designed to reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent, and would harness the latest technology to improve production and efficiency, lowering costs by 20 per cent.

It will embrace the latest scientific developments, such as vertical farming – where crops are grown indoors in stacked layers, mitigating the vagaries of the weather and eliminating the need for pesticides.

A central distribution facility will allow manufacturers to consolidate both raw materials and finished goods, improving efficiency and lowering food miles.

As well as creating up to 4,500 direct jobs, the project would generate further employment in the supply chain and throughout the local region.

Work will start in the first quarter of 2021 and a planned opening, with initial occupancy, will take place later that year. Full project realisation is expected by 2024.

SmartParc Chief Executive Jackie Wild said she was delighted to be able to develop the project in Derby.

“SmartParc is part of a £300m investment to put Derby city and the UK at the heart of the future of sustainable food manufacturing globally.

“The planned SmartParc campus will combine world-class food production facilities with shared utilities, amenities and services to provide a highly sustainable, low-cost production base for food manufacturers and new ways to reach end customers while reducing food miles and food waste.

“It will also act as a community hub, with a new food innovation centre and skills facility and planned partnerships with local charities, schools and universities to reconnect people with the food they eat.

“We are delighted to receive Government backing for our ambition and look forward to working with Derby City Council, local universities, businesses and communities to share our vision and deliver up to 4,500 new jobs in the area over the coming years,” she said.

The Government has also agreed to support the launch of an advanced manufacturing research centre at Infinity Park, Derby.

The move follows the success of a pilot project run over the past 18 months and would see an exciting new partnership formed to help businesses in the region boost employment through innovation.

The £20m initiative would create a new permanent home for the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, an organisation which helps companies develop new techniques and processes to win work in the nuclear sector and tackle manufacturing challenges in automotive, rail, aerospace, renewable energy and other high-value sectors.

It would also become a base for the University of Derby’s Institute of Innovation in Sustainable Engineering, which has developed an international reputation for innovation in design, manufacturing, product lifecycle management and the application of new and smart materials.

Nuclear AMRC is part of the Government-supported High-Value Manufacturing Catapult, which bridges the gap between industry and academia to bring innovative ideas into commercial reality.

It set up a pilot operation at the iHub on Derby’s Infinity Park in February last year and since then has worked on projects with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Sellafield nuclear plant and has collaborated with East Midlands universities on renewable energy and decarbonising transport initiatives.

The IISE has built a successful track record of delivering projects to businesses, both regionally and nationally, and has also established a number of strategic partnerships with institutions across Europe, the USA and Asia.

Derby City Council Leader Chris Poulter said the Government’s funding commitment was a huge vote of confidence in the city’s economic recovery strategy.

“Throughout the past four months we have been doing all we can to support existing businesses but also looking at opportunities for the future – to diversify our economy, to improve our environmental credentials and to make Derby a brilliant place to live and work.

“Today’s announcement is a massive boost for those plans and we look forward to working with our partners to deliver these fantastic new projects.”

Other initiatives being carried out as part of Derby’s recovery strategy include:

  • The launch of a £5m growth fund to help local business create new jobs
  • Building of a 330-capacity food, drink and performance space at Derby Market Place to encourage visitors and assist the hospitality sector
  • Creation of a new performance venue at Becketwell
  • A £10m flood alleviation scheme that will create space for new homes and businesses near the city centre and a new park
  • A £23.7m bid for funding to secure an exciting new future for Derby Market Hall, create new office space and improve city centre public space
  • A redundancy working group formed to provide practical help to workers losing their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis
  • Support for private investors who want to develop in Derby. Companies behind schemes that will deliver more than £450m of homes, offices and other facilities have committed to carrying out their schemes despite the economic impact of COVID.

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